Letters to the Editor
February 20, 2014

To the Editor:
I write to you about the Fillmore High School Site Council for two reasons. First, having served on the SSC for 10 years, I am very familiar with how it should and has been conducted. Second, and most importantly, I speak because teachers and now parents fear retribution from the school administration if they speak out.
Under the current principal, Mr. Mesfun, the School Site Council is, like the other parts of the school, being mismanaged in many ways.
California Education Code Section 52850-52863 mandates that schools which receive state and federal funding must have a School Site Council (SSC). It is designed to ensure well over $200,000 are used to support school improvement.
The principal of each school must be the leader and conduit of information between the staff and various groups. But the current principal fulfills neither of these roles. Unlike five previous principals, Mesfun leaves meetings early and does not share information.
In January Mesfun agreed to inform teachers about the available funds. He never did, although, at the February meeting he implied the teachers had been informed. No teacher has heard anything about these available funds from Mesfun; no email was ever sent.
It does not matter whether this was intentional or an overlooked event that Mesfun did not inform the teachers. The principal must be dependable enough to follow through and do what he says he will. This is just another example lack of leadership and lack of trust. But the most egregious thing is that he misled the members of the School Site Council.
Mr. Mesfun’s treatment and disregard for the School Site Council and its members is poor, but it is far better than he treats the teachers and staff at Fillmore High School.
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 


 
Letters to the Editor
February 13, 2014

To the Editor:
At a recent school meeting, Mrs. De La Piedra stated that Dr. Nishino, superintendent of schools, receives $40,000 per year. In fact, FUSD is paying him in excess of $140,000 per year. Nishino receives about $40,000 in base salary, $100,000 tax sheltered annuity, medical benefits, and use of a FUSD car. All this for working only three days a week. On top of that, he receives over $100,000 for retirement and received the largest lump sum retirement payout of any school administrator of the state: $420,000.
Sadly, all of this is legal. I question if the district is ashamed, and is this why the total compensation package has been hidden from the community. Where is the transparency they pride themselves on?
At this meeting, Mrs. De La Piedra said Nishino had done all that the school board has asked and she would like to see him stay. Did the school board ask Nishino to lower the school’s test scores? They fell by an unprecedented amount. Did the school board ask Nishino to lower the teacher and staff morale to deplorable levels throughout the district? Did the school board ask Nishino to stay in his office and not visit the schools to see what is going on? Did the school board ask Nishino to hire a high school principal who had been sued for harassment and lost the case? The school board only found about this after the fact. Did the school board ask Nishino to hide this from them?
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 


 
Letters to the Editor
February 6, 2014

To the Editor:
Dear Fillmore Citizens,
Well here is the latest in the saga of the not needed Chevron development in Fillmore. We the neighbors have had a bit of a break over the winter from the dust noise and smell since they have stopped working. The plan is to start up again in the spring. So what do I have to complain about, well it has come to my attention that if the City Council does ok Chevron to be annexed (added to our city limits as they currently are not) into our city then the City will assume any and all problems that arise. I asked two different law firms to verify this and they said the information was correct. One firm stated “To build a business park on a contaminated site is a dangerous move, because it opens up liability to the City for future claims, including health claims” This would include the neighbors who have talked about laws suites against Chevron for health and other issues. Does our City really want all these problems? My next current issue is that Chevron has left a 20 foot hill over looking my yard and if plans go through then it will be graced with a building 15-25 feet high. Chevron said that they will landscape it to soften it. I don’t know of any trees that tall, with the exception of the sequoias which I do not belive live in our region. The neighbors to the south of me have a desert scape to look at and receive dust when we get high winds. Are these actions of “Good Neighbors”? I say they are not. Just a few weeks ago The VC Star reported on the earthquake that hit Fillmore and how we have recovered. One of the pictures shown is of the site where a building fell down and is STILL empty. It has been 20 years and still nothing is there and Chevron thinks that their Business Park & Industrial park will do better. We don’t need it. We don’t need another vacant lot in town, worse yet vacant buildings. Who would be doing the up keep on such a place? The city is having trouble keeping up with what we already have. My Last question is why does the City feel this is a good idea? Can anyone answer this question? New jobs are what Chevron says they want to help bring to Fillmore, but there is no guarantee this will happen. So again, why is this thought to be a good idea? Some of you don’t have an issue with any of this one way or the other, so I ask you to help us, the neighbors who live with this mess day in and day out when work is being done. Help us get this stopped so that we can have our lives and homes back to normal without fear for our family’s health and well being.
Ways to help us is by contacting the Fillmore City Council and letting them know what you think about this information and the project and/ or sign a petition that is going around town by The Fillmore Superfund Watch Committee:fillmoreswc@gmail.com
Call me if you would like more information.
Thank you for your time again
Kathy Pace
Fillmore

 

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Letters to the Editor
January 30, 2014

To the Editor:
I commend the members of the Fillmore USD Board of Education for hiring the Cosca Group to search for the next superintendent. After two disastrous superintendents, it is time for proven leadership.
Having visited with and listened to the two representatives from the Cosca Group, I was impressed with their understanding of the problems in the district and the type of dedicated leadership needed to restore trust and faith in the school district.
This is money well spent. FUSD needs expert help; and from what I observed, I believe that the Cosca Group will indeed do a complete background check to insure the new superintendent has not been sued for harassment, had questionable financial dealings, or withheld or skewed information from his or her supervisors or previous school boards.
FUSD needs a superintendent who is experienced with all levels of education especially at the high school level. Most districts are judged by the quality of their high school(s). He or she needs to come with a framework how to improve FUSD, not a pre-determined plan. To create a plan for success, he or she must want to work with the staff at all schools.
It is imperative that the new superintendent is loyal to the community, and is someone who rejects cronyism recognizing that the Fillmore community has talented and caring potential staff members. New staff members can and should be hired from the community when they are equally or better prepared for a job.
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
1991 MS Counseling & Guidance from California Lutheran University
2003 MA School Administration from Azusa Pacific University

***

To the Editor:
Re: CENTENNIAL
Many of you will remember in 1988 the big Centennial Celebration with Parade, BBQ, and Logo. That was for the establishment in 1888 of the town, named after Jerome A. Fillmore, regional General Superintendent of Southern Pacific Railroad.
The Centennial of 2014 is for Incorporation of the City in 1914. The incorporation was a greatly debated issue for varying town leaders and residents. But after 26 years, incorporation became a reality.
If you are interested in more early local history, you are encouraged to contact the Fillmore Historical Museum/Society, at 350 Main Street, Fillmore, CA, 93015, (805) 524-0948.
Sincerely,
Kathie Briggs
Former President, Fillmore Historical Society
And Chair, 1988 Centennial Coordination Committee for the Fillmore Historical Society

***

To the Editor:
Although we’re a month into the new year (and since I was on vacation in January), I’d like to take a look back at last year and reflect on the good and the bad, the pluses and the minuses, that we saw in 2013.
On the plus side, we saw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down. Obviously, problems still remain in those countries, but far fewer American lives will be lost, and that’s good. On the minus side, we saw the administration open up combat roles in the military to women. Now we not only have the unseemly prospect of women leaving their children to go to war, but we have the equally unseemly prospect of women serving in Marine and Army infantry units. One wonders what the President and others in his administration are thinking about. But one doesn’t have to wonder long. They have their agenda to force on our country, and the practical and moral ramifications of their actions evidently don’t matter. On a moral level, it’s a man’s duty to defend his wife and his children and his country, not a woman’s. On a practical level, where is a woman to find privacy when she’s on patrol with her unit? Or is a woman’s privacy another one of those archaic, patriarchal ideas that we have to do away with?
On a related issue, on the plus side, voices were raised to address the rising number of sexual offenses occurring in our military. On the minus side, our President and others in Washington promote policies that encourage such offenses. They put 19 and 20 year old men and women on ships together, in land-based units together, and in military academies together and then wonder why there are sexual problems. One doesn’t have to be a genius to figure it out. One has to wonder what world the President and others who support these policies live in. Certainly not the real one.
On the plus side, our country was more welcoming to returning veterans than at times in the past (I’m thinking specifically of Viet Nam, the war of my generation). Most of our citizens are more patriotic in this regard, honoring our veterans and the flag they served under. On the minus side, we still see fellow Americans showing disrespect for the flag. It happened in 2013 right here in Fillmore. Jennifer Fitzpatrick, an English teacher at our high school, dropped an American flag on the floor of her classroom and then stepped on it - evidently, to teach the students in her class. Teach them what? That it’s OK to step on the flag that a number of Fillmore men died for? I still find it almost unbelievable that she wasn’t at least officially reprimanded for what she did. But not a word. After all, there might be trouble with the teachers’ union, or there might even be a lawsuit, and we certainly wouldn’t want that. Who cares what the children learned from her actions. I thought that part of Fillmore High School’s mission is to help mold our young people into good American citizens. What good American citizen throws our country’s flag on the floor and steps on it? I think back to my days in grade school, junior high, and high school. Would any of my teachers have thrown our American flag on the floor and stepped on it? They wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing such a thing. There are some things you just don’t do. Teachers don’t come to school drunk or high on drugs. Teachers don’t curse or use vulgar language in their classrooms. Teachers don’t moonlight as prostitutes. And teachers don’t throw an American flag on the floor and step on it. That’s what my teachers would have thought. Evidently, things have changed, and not for the better.
2013 is gone, and 2014 is ahead of us. Hopefully, we’ll see some positive changes in the coming year - nationally and locally. We pray practically every Sunday in our church that we will.
Rev. Leslie R. Lanier, Pastor, Wayfarer’s Chapel Lutheran Church
Fillmore

 


 
Letters to the Editor
January 23, 2014

To the Editor:
For the last three years FUSD leadership has operated in a toxic mode which is poison to school improvement and staff morale.
Recently NPR broadcast a report on the Army and toxic leadership. This report emphasized the same issues are faced in the civilian world. U.S. Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, details what toxic leadership means for the first time.
"Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance... Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves... Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers' will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale."
The Fillmore School Board is currently searching for a new Superintendent of Schools. It MUST choose a leader who is knowledgeable, competent and collaborative. This new leader must have the ability to earn the trust of the Fillmore teachers, staff, parents and students and repair the damage done to FUSD over the past few years. As the FUSD Board is looking for new leadership, I recommend that they ask the subordinates of potential and current leaders to evaluate their supervisors — anonymously as the US Army is doing. As the NPR report states, “Toxic leaders were also good at snowing their superiors — so they kept getting promoted.” That is why input from subordinates must be sought and heeded.
http://www.npr.org/2014/01/06/259422776/army-takes-on-its-own-toxic-lead...
Karen Ashim
Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
December 19, 2013

To the Editor:
Dear residents of Fillmore.
The FUSD School Board is searching for a new Superintendent of Schools. What sort of person do you want to fill that important position?
Do you want a Superintendent who seeks out the best people to fill senior positions such as assistant superintendents and school principals? Or are you satisfied with a Superintendent who hires people with very questionable records?
Do you want a Superintendent who looks within the local area to fill important positions? Or are you satisfied with a Superintendent who brings in his cronies from everywhere but the Fillmore area?
Do you want a Superintendent who routinely visits the schools, finds out what is going on, and establishes a rapport with staff and students? Or are you satisfied with someone who never leaves his office?
Do you want a Superintendent who seeks input from the public on important issues? Or are you satisfied with someone who violates the California Education Code by ignoring requests that items be placed on the school board agenda?
Now is the time for you to speak out and tell the School Board what you expect from the new Superintendent. Request to be part of selection process and ask to be on the selection committee.
The school system is the most important asset of the Fillmore community. Potential new businesses and families judge the community on the schools and make decisions based on what they see.
Get involved, go to school board meetings, and visit your schools.
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Guidance and Counseling
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
December 12, 2013

To the Editor:
I was delighted when the College Board recognized Fillmore for its Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll. This is actually a Fillmore High School award.
The students from the Class of 2013 and their teachers earned this award. Over the three year period, for which FHS was evaluated, these students took the majority of the tests. I know that as juniors several students earned AP Scholar acknowledgment, and the majority of them will earn AP Scholar with Honors or Distinction for their senior year.
As much as the current district administrators say that the counselors and teachers do not push our students, I believe this award vindicates the FHS staff.
Under the leadership of Mr. Wilber, the previous principal, teachers were encouraged to participate in AP training so the courses are approved by the College Board. Mr. Wilber created master schedules where classes are available to all students.
The AP teachers at FHS are Mrs. Francis, Mr. Bauer, Mr. Anderson, Mrs. Juarez, Ms. Kim Tafoya, Mr. Steven Kandel, Ms. Huxtable, Mr. Sebek, Mr. Dollar, and Ms. Hoffman.
The counseling team for the Class of 2013 at FHS headed by myself, which included Mrs. Palacio, Mrs. Wyand, and Mrs. Larin worked very hard to instill confidence into the students that they are capable of enrolling in AP courses.
Congratulations to those talented AP Scholars, and the FHS teachers and counselors who worked so hard with them.
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling and Guidance
MS School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
November 28, 2013

To the Editor:
The Holiday season is around the corner, and the PNCinc. is gearing up for our 36th Annual Christmas Parade and Festival in Piru. We are seeking sponsorship and donations for the costs associated with hosting this very important community event! These are the activities that still need sponsorship.
Toys For Tots 300.00
Food Baskets 400.00
Entertainment 800.00
Portable toilets 200.00
Advertising 200.00
Security 200.00
Cleaning crew 250.00
Parade 325.00
Raffle/Prizes/games 400.00
Decorations/lights 300.00
Generous donors like you are the key to our success and make it possible for the PNCinc. to successfully fulfill our mission to promote better living conditions, better education, improved housing, and a greater participation in community affairs by the people of Piru and vicinity.
Our 501C3 Non-profit organization tax identification number is 95-3122877. Payments can be cash or check. Let us know if you prefer a W_9, and/or a receipt.
Your organization will be recognized for your generous support during the holiday season and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely,
C. King
President
Board of Directors, 2013 - 2015
C. S. King ~ Madame President, Lupe Hurtado ~ Madame Vice President, Yvonne Gonzalez ~ Madame Secretary Jazmin Gonzalez ~ Madame Treasurer

 
Letters to the Editor
November 21, 2013

To the Editor:
“The Board of Education has been elected by the community to provide leadership and citizen oversight of the district.” This is the opening statement of the FUSD bylaws. The most important job of a school board member is to select a superintendent with absolute integrity. The superintendent must live and work following an ethical code of conduct.
The superintendent’s job is to run the district, but it is the school board’s job to ensure the district’s policies and procedures are followed. The board must not be misled by a charming and persuasive superintendent, who knows the educational code better than board members. Members must be vigilant that their natural tendency to trust the superintendent does not cause them to back away from their duty of providing leadership and oversight.
On September 24, I requested math be placed on the agenda. It should not take a letter from Ventura County Special Assistant District Attorney, Michael Schwartz, to ensure its addition to the board agenda. He reminded Dr. Nishino about the California Education Code Section 35145.5 “that members of the public be able to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of the school district governing board meetings.”
In district policy, it is the president of the board and the superintendent who decide what is placed on the agenda. The California Education Code supersedes school board policy.
I believe that Dr. Nishino has intentionally misguided the FUSD school board on this and other agenda issues.
Karen Ashim
Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

***

To the Editor:
I think a new bike track is great, but only if the City does not have to put any money into the construction. Two Rivers Park has not been completed---we are still waiting for the tennis courts and parking near the playground equipment on the back side and several other things on the drawing board. Let’s finish up the current plans before we expand into any costly new activities. (Since I live near the park, I can assure everyone, the skateboard park is being used every day, and I am sure the bike track will be also. Certainly the exercise is good for the kids too.)
I hope a grant provides money to make this improvement but we should not use City funds for it until the balance of the park plans are completed.
Marie Wren
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
November 14, 2013

To the Editor:
The Fillmore Lion’s Club extends a big thank you to the community for their support of our annual Lion’s Club Enchilada Dinner.
We served over 550 dinners, and through the community's support the money raised will go back to support our many projects that makes our city great.
Brian Wilson
Lion’s Club Secretary

 
Letters to the Editor
November 07, 2013

To the Editor:
Accreditation by WASC is a crucial milestone for every high school in California. Lack of accreditation can have disastrous consequences for each student who attends that school. Those students may not be eligible for college. Their credits may not be accepted by another school should they choose to transfer.
Fillmore High School will be evaluated by WASC for accreditation in the spring of 2015. Will it be ready? Apparently not. The research and writing for the evaluation is a year long process. All research, writing, publication, and mailing of the Self-Study report will need to be completed before winter break 2014. Has the process been started? No!
I know the amount of work and commitment by the staff that WASC Self-Study takes. As an assistant principal in 2002, I coordinated and wrote the Self-Study Report. FHS earned a 6 year accreditation.
Today a 6 year accreditation is no longer possible. Why? Principal Mesfun requested a year's delay in scheduling the evaluation and eliminated programs.
An essential part of the WASC evaluation is showing that the school has coordinated programs and collaborative teams working for student improvement. Programs, such as RtI and the tutorial program, were implemented by the former principal and staff over several years. Since Mesfun began at FHS, he unilaterally eliminated all these successful programs and processes. Now there are none.
FHS teachers are hard working and dedicated. They need a new principal capable of providing leadership and successful programs for students. This needs to be done now.
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

***

To the Editor and Fillmore Community,
I am once again writing to inform you all of my recent Chevron dealings. As you may or may not know Chevron is planning to build an industrial park, business/ commercial park and 14 acres open space for our town. I have problems with this idea for a number of reasons.
1) Fillmore is having a hard time supporting the business in town currently and adding yet another one of these facilities may take away from a struggling down town that we are always trying to jump start and keep alive as apparent by the empty buildings.
2) The Industrial park is in my opinion in a poor location and will only be a nuisance to the near by neighbors with the possible noise, evening lights and random persons in the area. We also have a few of these industrial parks currently empty around town waiting for business. Why do we need more?
3) I was told that the project would bring in jobs and income to our town. Can Chevron and the city officials guarantee both or will we be left with more empty buildings around our town?
4) The open space is intended for recreational use as hiking trails but who really wants to hike in soil that has contaminants still in it. Chevron has done there clean up yes, but as stated in one of their hand outs “they have been reduced to levels that are safe for populations, including children”. I would feel much better hiking in an area such as this if the chemicals were eliminated and not just reduced.
I recently went to a meeting this past month and it was there that 35+ neighbors from two areas of town affected by this project were visibly and vocally upset with the project. People were upset with possible chemical exposure in soil contamination and dust contamination. Others were upset that some neighbors received $100.00 Vons gift cards as “a token of our appreciation and thanks for your patience and understanding during our restoration activities “.while others did not receive any thing even though they have been unconvinced as well. I for one gave mine back because it just did not sit well with me. It was a night of many accusations and a few tears. The anger in the room was uncomfortable and very raw but I felt it needed to be seen so that Chevron would see, know and hear that not every one in town especially the near by neighbors are not fine with this idea of theirs.
Before the meeting I felt very alone in this matter but now I feel that now I have a little bit of a voice. Chevron’s property in not even in our city limits and can not do any thing unless we change our boundaries for them. Now you may say ”Oh Kathy let it go, just let them build”. Well I will say to you,” today it is my back yard that is now being infringed upon and you may be next. If you live next to a hill side or any open space with a view the city may want to change the boundaries on you too. I want the best for our city but I do not feel that this is a good plan for our town.
Thank you again for letting me chew your ear off and hope that you all will consider the things that I have said and maybe investigate the project to see if you think it is a good idea for our town.
Sincerely
Kathy Pace

 
Letters to the Editor
October 24, 2013

To the Editor:
It is a great feeling to know that good Samaritans and friends will respond in time of need, such as.... Last Tuesday while returning from my morning walk I had reached Shiells Park, when my legs lost all feeling. I went down on my left side, my head hitting solid ground. I was in a daze for a minute when I heard voices and arms trying to help me up. I am not sure if I knew these good Samaritans or not. Tissues were applied to help stop the bleeding on my head. Someone asked who to call and momentarily I forgot Judy's cell number, she was on out finishing up her walk. I did remember our friends Bob and Mikki's number. It only seemed like seconds before Bob was there. I was then lifted into his truck. He got me into our house and Mikki then took over and attended to my bleeding and applied an ice pack to my head. Meantime Bob went to find Judy. I was checked out by my doctor and other than being battered and bruised, I checked out okay. I'm on the mend. This letter is an attempt to thank those "Good Sams" who came to my rescue, during and after my fall. Thank you, thank you.
Ray Dressler
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
October 17, 2013

To the Editor:
Algebra II requirement to graduate
ANOTHER SAD CHAPTER
The refusal of the Board of Education to acknowledge the concerns of Karen Ashim, the recently retired head counselor at Fillmore High School, shows both ignorance and arrogance. For several months, Ms Ashim has begged the Board in person and in writing to reconsider their decision to require Algebra II to graduate from Fillmore High School effective for seniors hoping to graduate after completion of studies this year. It is completely unreasonable to mandate this requirement without adequate warning. At the last Board of Education meeting, Board Member Prado dismissed concerns with a remark about challenging the students to strive for a higher standard. He further stated that just because other schools are not requiring Algebra II does not mean that FUSD should not do it. The Board should strive for a higher standard and consider the opinion of the best person to access this requirement. Ms. Ashim has an MS in Counseling and Guidance, an MA in School Administration and for many years was the head counselor at Fillmore High School. She will never know how many lives she has positively influenced. Some she has truly saved. No one on the FUSD Board of Education has such credentials. Does it not occur to the Board that there are very good reasons other schools do not have this requirement?
Ms Ashim has formally requested, in person and in writing, for the topic of math policies and course offerings to be included in the Board of Education agenda. This plea was ignored. It is illegal for the Board not to honor such a request. Was their refusal simple ignorance of the law or another example of their arrogance? Can we expect the math topic to be on the next Board agenda or will the Board continue to defy the law and the people of Fillmore?
Yes, another sad chapter.
Mary Ford

***

To the Editor:
Thank you Mr. Mesfun
I received from you a voicemail last night thanking me for my generous deed in returning a lost wallet to one of the school's students.
I appreciate you taking the time to contact me so now I thank and commend you for that and for your service to the school.
As a Fillmore High Class of 2003 alumnus, I esteem your role as principal of my alma mater and wish you be best in your career as supervisor of the home of the Flashes.
I've left my mark in that school (literally) during my four-year tenure by painting murals and leaving an impression with the staff that, to this day, still remember me.
Small town Fillmore may not be like a fast-paced Northern California city, but the experience you carry with you, Mr. Mesfun, I know will benefit these students. In turn they too will promote health, integrity, citizenship, and a state of well-being to our little community thanks to your contribution in their young lives.
So I honor and am proud of you, Mr. Mesfun
Omar Becerra

 
Letters to the Editor
October 10, 2013

To the Editor:
At the Fillmore Unified School District's Board Meeting on September 24, 2013, I formally requested, in person and in writing, for an item to be placed on the school board agenda. That request is for the district to examine the success of their math policies and discuss the math course offerings. That request was not honored and the item was not placed on the October 8, 2013, FUSD Board Meeting agenda.
This is a violation of the California Education Code. California Education Code Section 35145.5 states “that members of the public be able to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of the school district governing board meetings.”
I certainly believe that the success of the policies and curriculum of the study of mathematics is certainly directly related to the district's business. I agree with the FHS alumna and recent UC Davis graduate who observed that the math education in the Fillmore School system is broken. When most students arrive at the high school poorly prepared for Algebra 1, the system needs a careful analysis. The public, and especially parents with children headed for FHS, deserves a full report detailing the problems and a carefully considered plan for correcting the problems. The solution is not to spring new requirements on high school students in their final year as was done by the FUSD this year.
Karen Ashim
Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
October 3, 2013

To the Editor:
Why no academic support for FHS students?
At the most recent school board meeting on September 24th, Mr. Mesfun, principal of Fillmore High School said that there is special math support. He said, “We are also availing 7 to 8 math. We are availing 3 to 4 math to support you.” Availing means that support was happening at that time.
Sadly for the students this statement is not true. As of today, October 1st, there are still no programs in place to support the FHS students who are struggling in their math or English courses.
FHS has not had such a program since August 2012. Mesfun eliminated the Tutorial program, the effective support system FHS had in place.
Mesfun said this about his approach at his last school. “Teachers met to collaborate and share strategies, . . . Systems were designed to identify students who were not thriving, and those needing help were identified sooner and better served. The process created a sense of purpose and soon paid off”. http://www.eritreancommunity.org/in-the-community
Mesfun has had 14 months to lead FHS to such a system; to collaborate, and share strategies. However, with his lack of leadership nothing like this has happened. Collaboration time for teachers and staff has simply been eliminated.
There is no leadership from the principal at the high school. Mesfun's favorite saying is “I've got your back.” But a real leader is up front, not in the back.
Karen Ashim
Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School

***

To the Editor:
I would like to thank Mr. Sanford for his great letter about the Chevron problem we are having currently on Island View Street. The noise I can deal with, after 4 kids I have a high pain thresh hold on this. It is the smell that bothers me. What does it smell like, well petroleum and an old gym shoe is how I describe it. I have now been able to smell it as far as FHS, but it has gotten better the past weeks on and off. Yay.
I wanted it to go on the record that I also DO NOT want to have a walking or driving bridge going across to the new industrial park off of Second Street and Island View. This may affect the area of Mountain View and Second Streets as well. In my discussions with the Chevron representative I was informed that the bridge was not on the original project plans. I was told that the City is requiring the bridge at Second Street and that if there is enough public opposition they may reconsider this requirement. I am not sure why the City wants this bridge however, some reasons I don’t want it are there will be more traffic on what is currently a quiet street, possible problems to neighbors back and front yards, unknown persons coming and going at all hours of the day and night and possibly more graffiti than we already have in the area due to more accessibility.
I feel that I have been and will continue to be as patient as possible with this project that I have no control over since it is not my land. But the street is ours, the citizens and I will once again say please don’t do this to us. Have we not suffered enough with noise, smell, dust, vibrating houses, and lowered value on our homes? I urge others to contact the paper (www.fillmoregazzette.com) and or the Chevron Leslie Klinchuch (leslieklinchuch@chevron.com) or the City Council with your concerns.
Thank you
Kathy Pace

***

To the Editor:
As a life long Republican I have to give credit and a huge thank you to State Senator Hanna-Beth Jackson and State Assemblyman Das Williams, both Democrats. They have my future vote!
They both did more for me, as an owner of a modular home in my El Dorado MHP, which rents me a space here in Fillmore than any Republican has in the 70+ years I have been voting.
The carrying of SB 510 which passed the Senate by one vote (Ms. Jackson's) will put a stop to unscrupulous Park Owners like we have here at El Dorado. These nasty people have subjected the City to an excess of $100,000 in lawsuits trying to get their wishes for this Park to be converted from "rental to condominium" type living. Four times they sued the City and four times they lost in Ventura Courts and the State Appellate Court. The only winners have been their scheming and lecherous attorneys.
The owners of El Dorado said they did not have to abide by the 92% vote of the residents saying "we did not want to convert our Park to condo-style living". Now this new law says the residents vote must be submitted to the City Council (who has already said "NO") and can be used by the City Council in determining if the City wants to deny the owners a future petition. Doesn't that seem fair?
We owners have a lot of money invested in our homes and we here promised that the space we rented would remain just that "rental space". Some houses here can't be moved. Some house here cost in excess of $100,000. Can you imagine adding another $50,000 or more for the cost of the land to the total purchase of what we already have invested? The owner's don't care. They have shown that by changing this Park from a "Senior only Park" now to a "Family Park".
Thank you City of Fillmore and Senator Jackson and Assembly Williams for "standing up for the little guy"!
Charles D. Richardson
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
September 26, 2013

To the Editor:
Does the FUSD School Board not know how to use Google or the Internet?
FUSD's mission is to provide the best education for Fillmore students. FUSD is required to hire administrators who can and will carry out that mission.
Leadership demands trust and integrity. When these are lacking from administrators, it is unlikely that they will be able to “maximize the efforts of others, towards achievement of a goal” Forbes Magazine.
When a new administrator is hired, out of curiosity stakeholders search on the internet for information about the new hire. In the case of 3 recent hires disturbing information is present, which has been overlooked by the FUSD school board.
Dr. Nishino –superintendent: In Morgan Hill he took a pay raise when teachers were being cut; questions were raised about Brown Act violations and intent to deceive; received $421,000 when retired with a $201,000 pension, and was employed at FUSD the next day; current controversy about his convoluted salary.
Mr. Persaud – assist. superintendent for business services: He was dismissed from his position as the assist. superintendent for business services at Upland USD due to financial irregularities.
Mr. Messfun – principal Fillmore High School: Lodi USD paid 3 teachers $250,000 each to settle harassments lawsuits.
Can these men establish trust from a system that needs leadership to meet its goals?
FHS is in desperate need for Spanish speaking staff especially in the office. Mesfun was aghast that no one spoke Spanish in the office and promised to remedy it. When presented with the opportunity to do so, he did not hire a Spanish speaking counselor or assistant principal. There were well qualified Spanish speaking applicants.
Have these men met their goals to improve the schools? The answer is NO. Test scores dropped considerably, school population is dropping as parents move their children to other schools, and staff morale has plummeted. In school year 2009-2010, FHS had 1,137 students; today there are 1,010. Where did 127 high school students go?
Students and staff at FHS have absolutely no confidence or trust in the leadership, and I believe that is a serious situation.
Karen Ashem

To the Editor:
Nishino looses big for our children. Two years ago Alan Nishino burst into town as the self-proclaimed savior of student testing results, boasting that he knew how to improve our student’s performance. Well after two years of Nishino’s leadership, our schools posted record failure on state testing as indicated by the Academic Performance Index.
Piru Elementary
2012 API: 754
2013 API: 750
LOSS: -4
Mountain Vista
2012 API: 751
2013 API: 736
LOSS: -15
Fillmore High School
2012 API: 740
2013 API: 719
LOSS: -21
Fillmore Middle School
2012 API: 735
2013 API: 711
LOSS: -24
Sespe
2012 API: 779
2013 API: 738
LOSS: -41
Never before have our students performed so poorly on standardized tests. Not only are our students not catching up to their peers, they are performing worse than they did a year ago. Their education is their future and they can’t go back and regain what they have lost. Our students deserve and need leaders who support our teachers and students – not who bully staff, hire incompetent school leaders and who only work a few days a week.
Alan Nishino and Michael Johnson were hired as interim administrators. Two years later, it is clear that our students are suffering from the lack of full-time, highly qualified leaders who are dedicated to our community. It is well past time for the Board to act and hire a permanent Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent for our children.
Renee and Mike Bush
Michael Bush, Ed.D.
Vice President
Oxnard College

 
Letters to the Editor
September 19, 2013

To the Editor:
On Monday, Sept. 20th, the 17th day of school, approximately 300 students’ schedules were changed due to a lack of follow through by the principal.
On June 20th Mr. Johnson met with Mr. Mesfun, Mrs. Wyand, and me (Mrs. Ashim) to review the master schedule. The topic we discussed at length was the overstaffing at the school. This was created by the need for an additional ELD teacher. During the meeting neither Mr. Johnson nor Mr. Mesfun expressed any concerns with the staffing level. They indicated that since it was due to the changes in ELD, the position would be funded.
There was no indication from them that FHS would not be able to staff the master schedule.
Mrs. Wyand and I emphatically warned Mr. Mesfun that we were over staffed, and classes and staff would need to be cut. No one listened. The consequences of this oversight affected every student and teacher half way through the 1st quarter.
The leadership of FUSD has turned FHS into a “college prep only” school. That is an admirable goal – only if the students have been prepared for that. Sadly, many are not and are in danger of not graduating. This year, non-college prep math and English 12 classes have been eliminated. The lowest level math class for any student at FHS is Algebra 1. That includes special ed students who may never have had a Pre-Algebra course. Additionally, there are no interventions or support programs in place for these students. Our most at risk students are even more at risk under the leadership of FUSD and FHS. That is unacceptable.
Karen Ashim

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To the Editor:
On July 9, 2013 I gave a presentation to the City Council on the lack of the displaying of our American flag (Old Glory). The following is an update to that presentation.
Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 we celebrated Labor Day. A day set aside for a special recognition of the working people who help to make what our great country is today. Did you share by celebrating & displaying our flag ? Also on September Eleventh, a day of remembrance, the twelve year anniversary of the most horrific attack on American soil where 3000 American's lost their lives, in NYC, Wa.D.C. & a field in Pennsylvania. Did you display our flag ?
It seems society has taken on a position of "me me me". This isn't about " you" it is about doing he right thing. A more proactive roll could be taken by our Scouts, schools, churches, clubs, VFW and many more organizations. Do not forget we have the most freedom, liberty, democracy, etc., than any country in the world. Let us show our pride of being an American. Display our flag.
Ray Dressler
Fillmore

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To the Editor:
Fillmore Explorer Post of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department
The Rancho Camulos Museum would like to publically acknowledge the efforts of the Fillmore Explorer Post of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department in support of our recent Ramona Days event.
Under the guidance of Deputy Leonardo Vasquez, these young men and women provided their time and skills to assist with the set up and carrying out of the event. They were particularly helpful in ensuring the safety of our visitors under extreme heat conditions.
One hears so many negative things about kids today. However, these young people were a credit to their community carrying out their duties in a professional manner, setting a good example for other youth, and making a positive contribution to the community through their service.
Hopefully this exposure to the rich history of the Heritage Valley at the only National Historic Landmark in Ventura County, Rancho Camulso, where the history, myth, and romance of old California still linger ... helped them gain a greater appreciation of the need to preserve our local history and cherish our heritage.
Congratulations to them for another community service project well done!
Maria Christopher
Ramona Days Event Coordinator

 
Letters to the Editor
September 5, 2013

To the Editor:
What has happened to Fillmore High School?
I started working at FHS 27 years ago. It was struggling to be a quality institution. Through hard work and cooperation by the teachers, staff, and management it made great progress. There was a steady growth in student test scores, multiple 6 year WASC accreditations, increased numbers of students going on to colleges, and several students went to prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, and the military academies. Staff morale was high.
These achievements are being quickly eroded by missteps of the high school and district leadership. FHS API dropped 21 points. FHS school-wide interventions were eliminated. And most troubling is the sudden change is math course offerings which have put fully half of the FHS seniors in serious danger of not graduating this coming June.
Staff morale has plummeted. The principal received an 80% no confidence vote from the teachers. All but two department chairs resigned last year. Weekly teacher collaboration meetings have been abandoned, which hinders planning for the upcoming accreditation.
These issues have been brought to the school board yet corrective action has not been taken. So I ask these questions of the school board:
Why was it necessary to hire a principal with a documented record of harassment lawsuits against him?
Why did the current principal with such a poor record receive a $5000 bonus when no previous principal has received a bonus?
Why has the board turned a blind eye to the serious issues brought by dedicated, experienced teachers?
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor from FHS

 
Letters to the Editor
August 29, 2013

To the Editor:
FILLMORE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Thank you Fillmore Fire Department for traveling to Tuolumne City to help defend one of Fillmore’s own families from the Rim Fire. My son, Bart and family, live in Tuolumne City and are packed ready to evacuate when told. However, they feel better now having seen a “hometown” truck close by. We Fillmorites are forever in debted to the Fillmore Fire Department for your loyal and selfless work. Over thanks, thoughts and prayers are with you.
Myrna Taylor
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
August 8, 2013

To the Editor:
Several weeks ago we lost another "icon" in Fillmore. Simon Carrillo. He worked for the city for almost 30 years and was indispensable. He knew where every water main and valve was in the city. He could do anything. He was a wounded veteran from World War II. His family chose to have a reception in his memory at the Veteran Memorial Building. And guess what folks??? Who ever it was his widow and family were charged for the event.
Where is the compassion?
Also, I still haven't heard from the Railroad or the city about what they are going to do about the tracks at Sespe St. and Old Telegraph Road. Is it a secret?
Ernie King

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To the Editor:
An open letter to the Fillmore Planning Commission and City Council
I live on the eastern side of Island View Street and my back yard ends at the Pole Creek channel. As I write this letter my house is rattling and my head is vibrating as if someone had strapped one of those foot massagers at the County Fair to the base of my skull. But his is nothing new. Residents of this area have been dealing with pounding noise from heavy machinery that shakes our walls and rattles our windows and nerves for months now.
Further, from our back yard on Island View Street we used to enjoy the view of the surrounding hills with the occasional sighting of rabbits and deer. Now we’ve got a view of Mars and the only “deer” we see is John. The row of pepper trees that had shielded us from this dirt landscape was bulldozed in the name of “progress” and it could be years before anything is done to improve the view. I can’t wait until the East winds kick up and cover our house, patio and vehicles with dirt and spores.
But this complaint is secondary to the point I wish to make about the future of our neighborhood.
On February 8, 2011 (then) Community Development Director Kevin McSweeney gave the City Council a written report regarding Chevron’s inquiries into the type of development it could pursue at its Superfund Cleanup site east of Fillmore along Pole Creek. In his report McSweeney wrote: “Second Street should be studied to extend over Pole creek for commuter traffic and not commercial traffic.”
In its current conceptual development proposal Chevron does not make any mention of a bridge, commuter, commercial, pedestrian or otherwise, for Second Street to cross over Pole Creek and into their planned industrial development.
I have spoken with many of my neighbors in the 100 and 200 block of Second Street and the 600 block of Island View Street, and it is clear to that no one wants any bridge or crossing over Pole Creek at Second Street.
One of the primary reasons that many of us purchased our homes in this part of the city (and paid prices consistent with this fact) was because Second Street dead ends at the Pole Creek flood control channel and there is little vehicle through traffic and, until recently, we enjoyed the peace and quiet that comes with this traffic pattern.
We do not want Second Street or Island View Street to become choked with commuters and commercial vehicles trying to access this development when and if it should ever be built. As it is, our property values are destined to slide straight into the commode when this screaming, steaming pile of industrial “progress” starts operating 50 feet from our back yards.
In conclusion, don’t add insult to injury. We have resigned ourselves to our neighborhood being forever negatively altered and disrupted by the development of this site. Please don’t add to our misery by re-routing hundreds of vehicles through Second Street.
Respectfully,
Art Sandford
Fillmore